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Statement by Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Signing of Sudan Peace Accord

CONTACT: Kay Torrance

ATLANTA.....It is with great joy that I congratulate the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army on their peace accord signed today. The road to this agreement has been long and hard, but finally the people of Sudan have a chance to realize their great potential for a future of peace.

I commend President Omar Bashir and Dr. John Garang, who, with their supporters, have made the difficult compromises necessary to end this long, bloody war. I also applaud the tireless work of the IGAD mediation team, supported by many international partners, for demonstrating what persistent diplomacy can achieve.

Today there is cause to celebrate. Tomorrow the hard work continues. The challenge now is to implement this agreement and to move with determination to address Sudan's many remaining challenges, including the tragedy in Darfur. All Sudanese must become part of this peace, through security, development, elections, improved health, and respect for human rights.

Decades of strife have caused persistent disease, hunger, and displacement. The international community must support peace generously and maintain strong interest if there is to be a lasting end to the suffering of the Sudanese people. Leaders in Sudan at all levels must work together in the spirit of compromise to rebuild the country.

An essential aspect of strengthening communities and rebuilding ordinary everyday life in Sudan will be giving all the people of Sudan the basic human right of access to health care. Carter Center-assisted health programs working in Sudan to help prevent the unnecessary suffering caused by Guinea worm disease, river blindness, and trachoma look forward to reaching areas previously inaccessible due to conflict. Sudan has about 50 percent of all remaining cases of Guinea worm disease, and finishing eradication there quickly is important for Sudan and its neighboring countries.

A stable, peaceful Sudan will be a symbol of success and hope for all Africa and the world.

The Carter Center is a not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization advancing peace and health worldwide. The Center first became engaged in Sudan in 1986 through its SG2000 agriculture program. In 1989, President Carter was invited to mediate between the two parties. In 1995, he negotiated a "Guinea worm cease-fire" that lasted nearly six months, giving international health workers-including the Center's Guinea Worm Eradication Program-access to areas of Sudan previously inaccessible due to fighting. Since then, the Center's health programs have worked continuously in Sudan, maintaining neutrality in the war while working to prevent unnecessary suffering from disease. In 1999, President Carter brokered the Nairobi Agreement between the governments of Sudan and Uganda that led to the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

For more information on the Center's work in Sudan, click here.

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